Judge rules Goldman Sachs tax deal was not unlawful
UK Uncut loses legal challenge
The HMRC took into account potential embarrassment to George Osborne when letting off Goldman Sachs from paying up to £20m in interest payments, a judge has concluded.
In a high court ruling, the judge found that the 2010 "sweetheart" deal brokered by the then permanent secretary for tax, Dave Hartnett, was lawful but "not a glorious episode in the history of the Revenue". He criticised the fact that it had been done behind closed doors and without proper approval or reference to lawyers.
The ruling followed a legal challenge by the pressure group UK Uncut.
UK Uncut said it was wrong to allow rich companies to avoid paying millions in tax while the government imposed tough austerity measures on the poor, and ordinary taxpayers were pursued for every penny.
Murray Worthy, a director of UK Uncut Legal Action, said after the hearing that he was disappointed with the ruling. "This case has shown that the government's tough talk on tax is just that – talk not substance."
Anna Walker, campaigns director of UK Uncut Legal Action, said: "Obviously, while we are deeply disappointed that this deal has not been declared unlawful, the judge's ruling that top HMRC officials played politics with major tax deals to protect Osborne's reputation is a major victory in exposing the truth behind these secret deals.
"Despite not having won the case today, we still feel that this judgment has demonstrated that the government is making a political choice to cut legal aid, public services and the welfare system, rather than take action to make corporate giants … pay their fair share of tax.
"This case has exposed the lengths the government will go to to look tough on tax avoidance and has been vital in holding the government to account for its shameful actions."
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